What is Sat-Chit-Ananda?
Talks with Ramana Maharshi
Sri B. V. Narasimha Swami asked: Who am I? How is it to be found?
M.: Ask yourself the question.
The body (annamaya kosa) and its functions are not ‘I’.
Going deeper, the mind (manomaya kosa) and its functions are not ‘I’.
The next step takes on to the question. “From where do these thoughts arise?” The thoughts operate in the intellect. Then, who is aware of them? This individuality is the ego, or as people say ‘I’.
Enquiring further the questions arise, “Who is this ‘I’? From where does it come?” ‘I’ was not aware in sleep. Simultaneously with its rise sleep changes to dream or wakefulness. But I am not concerned with dream just now. Who am I now, in the wakeful state? If I originated from sleep, then the ‘I’ was covered up with ignorance. Such an ignorant ‘I’ cannot be what the scriptures say or the wise ones affirm. ‘I’ am beyond even ‘Sleep’; ‘I’ must be now and here and what I was all along in sleep and dreams also, without the qualities of such states. ‘I’ must therefore be the unqualified substratum underlying these three states.
‘I’ is, in brief, beyond all these. So, the residuum left over after discarding all that is not-self is the Self, Sat-Chit-Ananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss).
D.: Please help me realise Atma – Paramatma – Satchidananda.
M.: Atma – Paramatma – Satchidananda mean one and the same thing, the Self. The Self is eternally realized. Otherwise there will be no pleasure in it. If it is not eternal it must have a beginning; what begins will also end; so it is only transient. There is no use seeking for a temporary state of affairs. The fact is that Satchidananda is the state of effortless, ever alert Peace. Effortlessness while remaining aware, is the state of Bliss. And that is Realization.
M.: The mind is maya (illusion). Reality lies beyond the mind. So long as the mind functions there is duality, maya and so on. Once it is transcended the Reality shines forth. Although it is said to shine forth, Self-Effulgence is the Self.
D.: It is Sat-chit-ananda.
M.: Sat-chit-ananda is said to indicate that the Supreme is not asat (unreal), not achit (insentient) and not anananda (unhappiness). Because we are in the phenomenal world, we speak of the Self as Sacchidananda.
Sat denotes being beyond Sat and Asat. That is, Reality denotes being beyond Reality and Unreality.
Chit denotes being beyond Chit and Achit. That is, Consciousness denotes beyond Consciousness and Insentience.
Ananda denotes being beyond Ananda and Ananandha. That is, Bliss denotes beyond Bliss and Unhappiness.
What is it then? Even though Reality is beyond Reality and Unreality, it must be admitted to be Reality only. Same thing with Chit and Ananda also. Compare with the term Jnana, Knowledge. Jnana is the state beyond knowledge and ignorance, yet Jnana is not ignorance but knowledge. So also with Sat-Chit-Ananda.
LETTERS FROM RAMANASRAMAM
A devotee asked Bhagavan, “What do Asthi, bhathi, and priyam mean?”
Bhagavan replied, “Asthi means Truth or Reality, that which IS. Bhathi means lustre or shining brilliance, and priyam means anandam or happiness. That is sat-chit-ananda swarupa, one’s Real Nature of Real Being, Shining Consciousness and Bliss. Sat-chit-ananda is what is spoken of as asthi, bhathi and priyam. Both sets of expression mean the same.” So said Bhagavan.
One of the devotees asked, “Brahman is said to be Sat-Chit-Ananda Swarupa. What does that mean?”
Maharishi replied, “Yes. That is so. That which is, is only Sat, Being or Reality. That is called Brahman or Pure Self. The lustre of Sat-Reality is Chit-Consciousness and its nature is Ananda-Bliss. These are not different from Sat-Reality. All the three together are known as Sat-Chit-Ananda.
DAY BY DAY WITH BHAGAVAN
Bhagavan said, “We are all in reality Sat-Chit-Ananda. But we imagine we are bound and are having all these pains.”
Devaraja Mudaliar asked, “Why do we imagine so? Why does this ignorance or ajnana come to us?”
Bhagavan said, “Enquire to whom has this ignorance come and you will find it never came to you and that you have always been that Sat-Chit-Ananda. One performs all sorts of penances to become what one already is. All effort is simply to get rid of this viparita buddhi or mistaken impression, that one is limited and bound by the woes of samsara, the miseries of the world.”